Where did Infosys go Wrong?; by Bruce Buchanan, Siskind Susser
The U.S. government’s recent $34 million settlement with India-based Infosys Limited over alleged visa fraud and I-9 violations sheds more light on the H-1B visa program at a time when proposed immigration reform would change the number of visas that employers may obtain.
With a current annual cap of 65,000 visas for the H-1B category, the U.S. government alleged Infosys circumvented the H-1B cap by misusing a different, and cheaper, visa category –the temporary B-1 visitor visa– to bring computer programmers and coders from India to the United States to perform work that required legitimate H-1B visa holders or authorized workers. Generally, B-1 visitors are not authorized for employment and may only enter the United States temporarily for limited business purposes; for example, to attend business meetings or conventions. B-1 visitors are not permitted to remain in the United States and accept employment, regardless of whether they perform skilled or unskilled labor.
The investigation into Infosys’s conduct involved numerous federal agencies, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and its Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division; U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); Diplomatic Security Service (DSS); and the Department of State (DOS).
In addition to visa fraud, the U.S. government investigated I-9 form violations by Infosys. The government alleged Infosys “failed to maintain accurate I-9 forms and records” and did not “update and re-verify the employment authorization status of a large percentage of its foreign national employees for each foreign national as required by law” - the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.
As part of the settlement agreement, Infosys agreed to undergo I-9 form audits for two years at its own expense to ensure compliance. For the same period, Infosys’ B-1 visa filings and related documents submitted to the government’s immigration bureaus will be subjected to further scrutiny and random sampling. The findings for both years will be reported to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas to determine whether Infosys remains in compliance with the settlement agreement.
Infosys’ $34 million penalty is a reminder that employers must institute policies and internal control systems, and abide by such, to prevent violations of immigration laws when employing domestic or foreign workers.